Prisoner Advocate Elaine Brown on Georgia Prison Strike: “Repression Breeds Resistance”

Elaine Brown appeared on Democracy Now! today. Amy Goodman described the strike as the biggest in American History.

Brown alleged an inmate paid $800 to a prison guard for a cell phone.

Goodman suggested the term cell-phone has realised its true meaning.

‘CELL’ PHONES

Also, for the New York Times, in Inmates in Georgia Prisons Use Contraband Phones to Coordinate Protest, Sarah Wheaton describes how ‘prison protest has entered the wireless age’ and how gang, religious and race divisions were put aside to organise the strike.

Note: The Georgia DoC say they have locked-down the prisons. Not true. The inmates locked themselves down, refusing to leave their cells.

Biggest Prison Strike in American History

Prison strikes are a rarity these days, with prison populations fragmented, disciplined, docile, estranged from society and stripped of tools for political mobilisation.

There’s a growing number of reports coming out of Georgia, where the strike is now into its fourth day. You should read the excellent Prison Law Blog for a summary of communications and developments – Georgia Prisoners Strike for Better Conditions.

As Sara points out:

“Relative to the state’s population, it has an outsize reach. In Georgia, 1 in 13 adults is either in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole — the highest rate of correctional control in the country. (Nationwide that figure is 1 in 31.) According to the Sentencing Project, over 4% of Georgia adults and almost 10% of African-Americans cannot vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws.”

The strike is based on reasonable demands; notably, demands applicable to issues in many state prison systems:

· A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

· EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

· DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.

· AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

· DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.

· NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

· VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.

· ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.

· JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

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